Give me the crystal ball.
The crystal ball that shows when to continue plugging away, and when to look for the new avenues and alternatives. I am still searching for one.
In the meantime, let me share some of my thoughts from my quest to sharpen my saw and exploring new avenues.
It was spring of 1999. I was working at the Rockwell International in their Semiconductor Systems division. It was a fun, creative journey. I was using all of my engineering and analytical skills to contribute for the chipset development project. It was a complex project that had more than a hundred people working on it. It gave me an opportunity to work as part of a team. Thankfully, I ran into an article at the IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) website – A Hard Case for the Soft Skills. It summed it up the need for an effective teamwork so well.
I got reference to Stephen Covey’s book in that article – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The book has a lot of insights and pointers that I use to this date. The one idea that changed my life is that of the paradigm. Natural laws and principles are in charge of our life. But, how I put them to use, depends on how I interpret all that happens with me as person, professional, family member, or a friend. As I embarked on the journey to develop my emotional skills, this one lesson helped me a lot while dealing with variety of people. Different people might be seeing the same situation differently depending upon their paradigm. How well do I understand them in their context? And then how well I bring up my point of view to create synergies? As my career evolved into more customer service and marketing roles, I got the opportunity to expand my communication skills.
When I joined the MBA program at the Paul Merage School of Business at UCI, I got one very good nugget from Prof. Richard McKenzie. His point was that the different topics and courses in the program give us different lenses to understand any situation. The economics class showed me how to take simple concepts of supply and demand, and apply them to business or socioeconomic cases. The marketing class built the awareness for the consistency of thinking and positioning for any company, and keeping customers always in the focal point. The finance class gave us a lens to evaluate and plan a business using set of tools that help in organizing and quantifying different parameters. The Organizational Behavior class gave me the background and framework around the professional relationships development and the leadership. The classroom discussions from the variety of topics gave me a new set of lenses that I still use. It’s an asset for the lifetime.
The paradigm and the lenses changed my life. But, isn’t it that I already had all of this inside me, I knew it all along? And the exposure simply helped me discover them?
It came together and for me last weekend. One of our very close friends told us a story about their son. He is a teenager. He thinks that the learning through structure at the school might actually stifle his natural learning and growth curve. He would rather learn what he wants and when it wants in his own way. I was heartening to see him willing to blaze his own trail. As Tim Ferris brought up in one of his posts, that might pave his way to stardom in his own way. While walking with them in the hills of La Canada, analogy came to the mind that going through the school is like having a binocular to see the hills in the distance clearly and quickly. While I might develop an eye to spot them in time, it might take a lot longer (and I am near sighted to begin with). A binocular can make it happen now.
I work with the people and companies that have wide range of backgrounds. And I get to test my paradigm and lenses all the time. And I have seen that businesses that show openness to the new ways of thinking renew themselves much faster. It’s fun to see so many professionals evolve their career and life tapping in to a variety of channels and growing opportunities.
I love to attach the idea of the sigmoid curve to leadership and direction, thanks to John Butler and his presentation in one of our workshops. And I think this is relevant for both – personal leadership as well as the business leadership. There is a time window to look for the renewal.
It goes back to my cry for the crystal ball.
I wish there were a crystal ball for me to see when to continue plugging away, and when to look for new avenues and alternatives. Or is it a continuous process? I still keep thinking while forging ahead in my initiatives.
Now, it’s your turn. How do you sharpen your saw? How do you adapt to changes in your life? What is your secret to keep up the growth curve?